Accurate and Simple Screw Insertion Procedure With Patient-Specific Screw Guide Templates for Posterior C1-C2 Fixation

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Study Design.

Prospective clinical trial of the screw insertion method for posterior C1-C2 fixation utilizing the patient-specific screw guide template technique.


To evaluate the efficacy of this method for insertion of C1 lateral mass screws (LMS), C2 pedicle screws (PS), and C2 laminar screws (LS).

Summary of Background Data.

Posterior C1LMS and C2PS fixation, also known as the Goel-Harms method, can achieve immediate rigid fixation and high fusion rate, but the screw insertion carries the risk of injury to neuronal and vascular structures. Dissection of venous plexus and C2 nerve root to confirm the insertion point of the C1LMS may also cause problems. We have developed an intraoperative screw guiding method using patient-specific laminar templates.


Preoperative bone images of computed tomography (CT) were analyzed using three-dimensional (3D)/multiplanar imaging software to plan the trajectories of the screws. Plastic templates with screw guiding structures were created for each lamina using 3D design and printing technology. Three types of templates were made for precise multistep guidance, and all templates were specially designed to fit and lock on the lamina during the procedure. Surgery was performed using this patient-specific screw guide template system, and placement of the screws was postoperatively evaluated using CT.


Twelve patients with C1-C2 instability were treated with a total of 48 screws (24 C1LMS, 20 C2PS, 4 C2LS). Intraoperatively, each template was found to exactly fit and lock on the lamina and screw insertion was completed successfully without dissection of the venous plexus and C2 nerve root. Postoperative CT showed no cortical violation by the screws, and mean deviation of the screws from the planned trajectories was 0.70 ± 0.42 mm.


The multistep, patient-specific screw guide template system is useful for intraoperative screw navigation in posterior C1-C2 fixation. This simple and economical method can improve the accuracy of screw insertion, and reduce operation time and radiation exposure of posterior C1-C2 fixation surgery.


Level of Evidence: 3

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